The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Mugabe's friends

Mugabe Motorcade

WHEN it comes to Southern Africa, relations between Britain and France have always been vexed -- perhaps we remind them of that socially disastrous braaivleis with Joan of Arc to celebrate the end of the 100 Years' War.

Way back in the 1880s they clashed over French annexation of Madagascar. Many believed world war was inevitable between the British and the allied French and Czarist Russians.

The latter were convinced the war in South Africa 1899-1902 was the precursor of a much greater conflict that would start in Aghanistan and spread west to Persia and Sudan, east to China. That was why the likes of Joseph Chamberlain and Cecil Rhodes, with his Oxford scholarships, looked to a "Great Brotherhood of Teutonic Nations" embracing the USA and Imperial Germany.

For generations, the French have got away with what, to Anglo-Saxon ears, sounds like cynical and hypocritical double-speak about Africa.

The only part they sought to fill with a French-speaking population was Algeria. They gave the rest of their African possessions independence with hardly a murmur, for 40 years supporting their currency, the CFA franc.

French philosophers said the Africanist concept of "Negritude" dovetailed with ideals of "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" behind the revolution of 1789, and the world-wide French "civilising mission". Yet France has a long, bloody tradition of centrally-organised slaughter of minority groups such as the Albigenses, the Knights Templar and the Huguenots: this carries over into the neo-Nazi writings of Frantz Fanon, Robert Mugabe's sacred texts, and is much closer to his mind than the Anglo-Saxon "chapel" way of self-upliftment and gradual reform.

Some of the statesmen of newly-independent Francophone Africa were previously deputies for their territories in the metropolitan French parliament, under a representation arrangement that was the exact reverse of the British one. When Pakistanis and Jamaicans acquired United Kingdom citizenship they were embraced by "The New multi-cultural Britain", but even British-born whites were deprived of their vote in Westminister elections as soon as they ceased to be resident in UK constituencies: Whitehall was determined to have neither "settler colonials" nor their black subjects postal voting from Africa.

Paris maintained French Foreign Legion bases and did what the British found unthinkable: signed agreements to prop up friendly regimes menaced by revolt. Whitehall said once the Union Jack had been hauled down, what happened was the UN security council's business.

The terrible irony in Mugabe's current effort to cosy up to France, as a Trojan horse or bridgehead for him within the European Union (to mix metaphors), is that, were this ex-French territory, Les Paras in their natty kepis would have given him and his young wife the "coup de grace" at least three years ago.

Then there is the French attitude to farm subsidies: the late Francois Mitterrand insisted "France must grow food for the world's starving masses", but his cherished European Union payouts to inefficient French farmers undermined the economics of African crop production through dumped exports.

While boasting of France's great colour-blind culture, and closing their consulate here in 1970, the French almost outdid the Portuguese and South Africans as breakers of United Nations mandatory sanctions during the 1965-1979 Rhodesian dispute. Congo Brazzaville and Gabon were major entrepots for exported Rhodesian produce.

Frenchmen from Mauritius and Madagascar settled in Rhodesia, bringing special expertise in sugar production. Some were killed on their farms by guerillas. French veterans of the Algerian and Vietnam Wars joined the Rhodesian Army.

French Alouette 111 helicopters, continually re-supplied with spares through shady middlemen, were the mainstay of Rhodesian anti-insurgency operations and Rhodesian pilots trained on supersonic Dassault Mirage jets in South Africa.

Citroens and Renaults, assembled in Rhodesia, suddenly appeared on our streets in place of British makes. Ian Smith rode around in an unobtrusive convoy of two Peugeot 404s, escorted by four white bodyguards, while the same model replaced Austin Westministers as police squad cars.

French fabrics were on sale in the expensive department stores. In the late 1960s, new season Beaujolais wine cost 18 shillings a bottle -- about R2.

The telephone book advertised "official agents for the French aircraft industry", headed by Wing Commander Roy Simmonds, an ultra right-wing Rhodesian Front MP.

Despite every pious denial from nominally left-leaning French politicians, it was clear a powerful element in the French establishment was seeking to transfer Rhodesia to its economic sphere of influence from that of Britain. French "pragmatism" over Mugabe's breach of democratic norms gives the impression a similar policy is in force as he tries to line up with Francophone Africa.

Paris has invited him to the pending summit in February, when we must expect a massive propaganda offensive as he struts his stuff before the Great Nation. To some, it will be reminiscent of those old newsreel clips of Hitler striding triumphantly down the Champs d'Elysee in May 1940. The French have forgotten the way statesmen such as Joseph Kennedy and Eamonn de Valera irrevocably tarnished themselves in the eyes of history by backing the Nazis to win. The ghost of Marshal Petain and his collaborationist Vichy regime lives on in the Quai d'Orsay, headquarters of the French Foreign Ministry.

The French message to the Third World -- including countries such as Iraq and Burma -- is unmistakable: favour our businessmen and your human rights record will get the response of that detestable one-eyed English admiral who humiliated us at Trafalgar in 1805.

Apart from "Le Shopping", always a favourite activity, Mugabe will use his Paris trip to ram down the throats of his people the message that the world has now accepted as a fait accompli his stolen 2002 presidential election, his seizure of the white farms, his terror tactics against opponents.

This has been the theme of the official media during the past week with the visits of the Nigerian foreign minister, Sule Lamido, and South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and even James Morris of the World Food Programme.

Morris's call for assistance to African farmers was distorted into "accepting the irreversibility of land reform" (ie ethnic cleansing of whites).

In public, Lamido and Zuma merely said that relations were cordial and they brought confidential messages from presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki.

Lamido said Obasanjo would come here next month ahead of the review of Zimbabwe's year-long suspension from Commonwealth councils. The "troika" consists of Obasanjo, Mbeki and Australian prime minister John Howard, but the supreme confidence with which Mugabe awaits the outcome of their review was demonstrated in Lusaka on January 14 when he said Howard was "the product of genetically modified criminals bent on eliminating Aborigines". In other words, it does not matter what racist abuse he employs -- Mugabe trusts his friends will always chortle behind their hands and back him up.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, warned that France, South Africa and Nigeria bore a heavy responsibility for buttressing Mugabe's regime -- "the people being starved to death are not white; the majority of victims of the killing machine are not white; those who languish in gaol and are subjected to daily torture and inhuman conditions are not white; those in the rural areas are not white."

This is a small town and while Lamido and Zuma may have guarded their tongues before the media, both were seen being feted, on successive nights, at Amanzi, the most expensive restaurant in Highlands. Diners saw them exuberantly enjoying the company of Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and Mugabe's egregious information supremo, Jonathan Moyo.

For Zuma to appear in public with Moyo was a gross diplomatic indiscretion after his remarks that South Africa was not a safe tourist destination and its people "filthy and uncouth", unfit to lead Nepad.

There were about 10 people in each dining party. We don't know who paid.

Amanzi bills usually come to at least Z$10 000 a cover -- which represents 400kg of mealie meal at the controlled price or about 60kg on the black market operated by ruling party fat cats who receive preferential supplies.

Let us hope the wine was not French at prices running into five figures.

A small bottle of Vichy water would have been fitting.

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Geldof bid to avert 'absurd' Zimbabwe match

Sir Bob Geldof is backing a bid to help the England team to pull out of their controversial World Cup game in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean cricket fan Emmanuel Muvavariwa is hoping the match will go ahead /AP

Geldof has teamed up with human rights organisation the Aegis Trust in a bid to raise £1million to meet any financial penalties incurred by England should they withdraw from their game against Zimbabwe in Harare on February 13.

The Trust have established a Zimbabwe Fund and are asking members of the public to pledge £1 in a Comic Relief-style telethon.

"On a day in which perhaps thousands will die of state-sponsored famine, the English nation as represented by their cricket team will be guests of their perpetrator Robert Mugabe," Geldof told the Evening Standard.

"Against these facts a game of cricket is wholly absurd. We must withdraw. I wholly endorse this appeal for you to pick up the telephone and buy this game off."

England's players this week pleaded with the England and Wales Cricket Board to pull out of the match - but the governing body have decided to wait for a meeting of the International Cricket Council on Thursday for guidance.

Without financial help from the Government to fund compensation the ECB refused to pull out of the match, but the Trust's offer of support could change their stance.

A spokesman for the Trust said: "We are hopeful of raising the money if we can get our message across.

"We believe the public doesn't want the English cricket team to play in Harare because it cares about the Zimbabwean people.

"It's not fair to leave the England team to shoulder a moral obligation all of us should share."

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White farmers promised land
28/01/2003 18:04  - (SA)

Harare - The Zimbabwe government has promised white farmers who lost their
land to the controversial land reforms that they will get some if they want
to continue farming, a government-run daily said on Tuesday.

"The government has assured white commercial farmers interested in
continuing with their farming operations that they will get land," The
Herald said.

The farmers, according to the report, received the assurance at a meeting
between the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) leader Colin Cloete and seven
cabinet ministers in the capital on Monday.

Cloete was reportedly "assured that no farmer will go without a piece of

Farmers who lost their property will be re-allocated land elsewhere, the
paper said.

But in a note to CFU members, Cloete said he was not satisfied with the
response he got from government when he inquired about the one-man-one farm
government policy.

"I feel I failed to achieve a satisfactory answer and will have to pursue
this further," Cloete said in the memorandum.

Colonial imbalances

Under an often violent land campaign that started in 2000, government
acquired more than 90% of land owned by some 4 500 white farmers and gave
some of it to landless blacks.

The campaign was aimed at redressing colonial imbalances that left the
whites who make up less than one percent of the population, owning some 30%
of the country's most fertile land.

More than 9 000 white-owned farms accounting for over 17 million hectares of
land have been forcibly acquired by the government, according to official

To date, the government claims to have re-settled 374 000 small-scale black
farmers on 14 million hectares of the formerly white-owned land.

CFU and the government have re-opened dialogue on the thorny land issue as a
record close to eight million of Zimbabweans face a famine.

But Cloete said the talks were marred on Monday by an attack on a farmer
outside Harare.

Michael Caine was reportedly set upon and assaulted by a group of people
when he went outside his homestead to switch on electricity which has
tripped off during a storm on Monday.

"What I see as a positive move by government to improve dialogue and resolve
outstanding issues was marred by another of our members... being severely
assaulted by settlers," Cloete said.

"This is both unnecessary and unacceptable," he said. - Sapa-AFP

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The Australian

Kenya and Zimbabwe set to lose matches
By Claire Harvey and Andrew Ramsey, Cricket
January 29, 2003
KENYA and Zimbabwe are highly likely to be stripped of World Cup matches as
security and moral issues engulf international cricket.

Within 24 hours, England players asked their governing board to reconsider
playing in Zimbabwe, their anxious Australian counterparts sought meetings
with the Australian Cricket Board and New Zealand officials said they
expected the game's international governing body, the International Cricket
Council, to move the games in Kenya to South Africa.

"We have received information which strongly suggests it is not safe for the
New Zealand team to travel to Nairobi for the scheduled match on February
21," New Zealand Cricket chief executive Martin Snedden said.

Snedden said a decision whether the team would play in Kenya would come
tomorrow from the ICC, which had sent a security team to the east African
country to analyse the security situation.

The current situation suggests there are "active" terrorist groups operating
in Kenya "which have the means and capability of launching a terrorist
attack, possibly against other Western targets," Snedden said.

"The information indicates that Kenyan authorities are not capable of
providing adequate security.

"I would anticipate that in the light of the information on the table, the
ICC's executive board will recognise the risk to player safety and move the
games to South Africa."

Should the ICC fail to shift the match in Kenya to a safer venue, the New
Zealand officials seem certain to prohibit the Black Caps from playing their
match in Kenya.

Reg Dickason, commissioned by NZC to investigate Kenyan security, reported
police had made no preparations.

"We were advised that the Kenyan police in Nairobi were corrupt, poorly
trained and capable of little more than basic policing," Dickason wrote.

Australia's High Commissioner in Nairobi, Paul Comfort, told Dickason
intelligence sources had discovered a list of targets in Nairobi compiled by
suspected terrorists.

Kenya has been hit twice by terror attacks linked to the al-Qa'ida network.
In 1998, more than 200 people were killed when the US embassies in Nairobi
and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, were bombed. And last November, 11 people were
killed in a car-bombing attack on a hotel in the coastal city of Mombasa.

The ACB, in conjunction with the Australian Cricketers Association, will
address most of the World Cup squad in Melbourne today to keep them abreast
of developments in the strife-torn African nations in a bid to allay
players' fears.

It is understood the Australian players, most of whom gathered in Melbourne
last night for the Allan Border Medal presentation, harbour deep misgivings
about the wisdom of the proposed visit and will air them today.

But ACB chief executive James Sutherland said yesterday there had been no
significant change in safety and security conditions in Zimbabwe since a
delegation of cricket officials visited last November.

He reiterated the position of the ICC and the England and Wales Cricket
Board by stating the Australian team would honour its February 24 playing
commitment in Bulawayo unless it was suddenly deemed unsafe to do so.

The ACB and ACA held scheduled executive board meetings in Melbourne
yesterday at which the Zimbabwe question is believed to have been high on
the respective agendas.

Details of those discussions will be passed on to the players today through
Sutherland, ACA chief executive Tim May and Test opening batsman Matthew
Hayden, who is the players' representative on the union's executive.

"It's a very volatile situation at the moment in Zimbabwe but from our
perspective we've put our faith in the ACB to make that decision for us,"
Hayden said yesterday.

It is unlikely the Australian players will follow the lead of their England
counterparts who have publicly expressed moral objections to playing cricket
in Zimbabwe in protest against the human rights abuses perpetrated under
President Robert Mugabe.

"The players urge all parties to move the fixture to South Africa and pay
the Zimbabwe Cricket Union appropriate compensation," England's Professional
Cricketers Association spokesman Richard Bevan said.

World Cup tournament director Ali Bacher said contingency plans would enable
England's match against Zimbabwe - scheduled for Harare on February 13 - to
be shifted "almost overnight" if the need arose.

Also yesterday, the ACB reportedly sought safety assurances from authorities
in Guyana following an explosion of violent crime in the South American
nation during the past year.

Australia begin their two-month West Indian tour with a practice match and
the opening Test in Guyana's capital, Georgetown, in April.
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Aussies to reassess Zim matches


MELBOURNE - Adam Gilchrist said the Australian cricket team will reassess
its attitude to playing its World Cup match in Zimbabwe after an appeal was
made by England players to have their match moved from Harare to South
After receiving the Australian international one-day player of the year
award Tuesday, Gilchrist said there's "definitely" concerns over playing in
Zimbabwe next month.

"We haven't really learned too much more about the scenario since hearing
what the English team have come out and said... we'll assess that over the
next few days," he said.

"It's really hard to comment because we're trying to learn and be informed
about what the scenario is... we'll learn a bit more about it but I think
it's fair to say that there's enough interest in it and enough concern from
the player group to warrant assessing it again."

But Gilchrist denied that the team didn't want to travel to Zimbabwe.

"That doesn't mean the players are standing up and saying 'we're not going'
and it doesn't mean that everyone is totally happy with it," he said.

"We'll assess it over the next few days and learn a bit more about it.

"I don't know of anyone who's stood up and said 'I'm definitely not going'
but, as I say, there's definitely concerns there, and enough concerns to
warrant investigating the scenario a little bit further."

Gilchrist's comments came after England's Professional Cricketers'
Association made an "urgent request" on behalf of the England players in
London for their match against Zimbabwe on Feb. 13 to be shifted from Harare
to South Africa.

It followed warnings received from Zimbabwean activists to the England team
in Australia and reports that opposition groups would use the England match
to demonstrate against President Robert Mugabe's regime.

However, Australian Cricket Board (ACB) chief executive James Sutherland
said he had learned of no new security risk which would prevent the
Australian team playing its match against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on Feb. 24.

"As far as we can gather in the reports that we've had, there's no material
change in the conditions that we found when we had the security delegation
there in late November," Sutherland said.

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France maintains Mugabe invite, talking to EU

PARIS, Jan. 28 - France said on Tuesday it would maintain an invitation for
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to attend a summit in Paris next month
despite concerns among its European neighbours who want a travel ban on
Mugabe enforced.
       The European Union failed on Monday to renew sanctions, including a
travel ban, against Zimbabwe's rulers because of a row over France's
invitation. The sanctions were imposed a year ago over Mugabe's alleged
       ''We are talking actively to our European partners to try to reach an
agreement on three issues: a possible renewal of the EU sanctions on
February 18, Mugabe's invitation to the February 21 Franco-African summit
and to the EU-African summit in April,'' foreign ministry spokesman Francois
Rivasseau said.
       Portugal also wants to invite Zimbabwe to an EU-Africa summit in
Lisbon on April 3.
       Rivasseau said that, while France favoured renewing the sanctions,
which expire on February 18, it was keen to arrange an opportunity for
critical dialogue with the Zimbabwean leader.
       ''What's at stake is knowing whether the international community can
get its position across to President Mugabe face to face and looking each
other in the eye,'' Rivasseau said.
       France fears that other African leaders will boycott its summit if
Mugabe is not allowed to attend. Four EU partners -- Britain, Sweden,
Germany and the Netherlands -- have registered their objection to the
       Britain on Tuesday urged the EU to renew sanctions, saying it was
''disappointed'' at France's decision to ask Mugabe to Paris.
       Minister for Africa Valerie Amos told a news conference in Nairobi
during an official visit to Kenya that worsening food shortages, economic
woes and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe in the past year showed the
sanctions should be renewed.
       The United States has called France's move ''regrettable'' and urged
the EU to enforce the travel ban.
       EU ambassadors are due to try again on Thursday to reach a compromise

Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or
redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior
written consent of Reuters.
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SA institute accused of trying to oust Mugabe

      January 28 2003 at 05:45AM

      By Basildon Peta

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's government has accused Greg Mills, director of the
South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) , of "plotting" to
topple President Robert Mugabe.

In a long article in its main mouthpiece - The Herald - and on news
bulletins of the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, the
government claimed on Monday that the SAIIA had held a secret meeting with
businessmen and diplomats in December 2002 to "mobilise efforts to remove"
Mugabe from power.

Dismissing the reports, Mills said on Monday that the meeting had been an
open one. It had been attended by invited diplomats, analysts, academics and
business people to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe. It had been no different
from other meetings convened by the SAIIA on Zimbabwe.

"Zimbabwe's government is trying to shoot the messenger in the age-old hope
that this will deflect attention from the real cause of the crisis in the

The Herald said the meeting had been attended by the British High
Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Brian Donnelly. It has repeatedly accused Donnelly
of planning to topple Mugabe.

Donnelly's spokesperson confirmed that he had been at the meeting, but said
there had been nothing sinister about it. Other diplomats had also attended.

The Herald claimed the participants had agreed past initiatives to remove
Mugabe had failed and that there was a need to come up with new strategies
to undermine and make the Zimbabwe government unpopular.

It claimed Mills had told participants one way of removing Mugabe was to
instigate division in the ruling Zanu-PF.

Denying the claims, Mills said: "Our role is to provide a forum for debate
on issues of importance. We regard Zimbabwe in a serious light, given the
problems that instability in that country poses for the Southern African
Development Community region."

Zimbabwe's government attacked Mills earlier this month after he had made
public details of Mugabe's shopping spree in Singapore. - Independent
Foreign Service

 This article was originally published on page 4 of The Cape Times on
28 January 2003
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Media could be target for Zimbabwe violence

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Journalists and commentators intending to travel to
Zimbabwe for the forthcoming World Cup have been warned that they may be
prime targets for militant aggression in the country.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) member of Parliament David Coltart told
Reuters that "hate speech" in the country had affected certain sections of
the community and journalists may suffer as a result.

"The world saw in Bosnia what can happen when 'hate speech' is repeated
often enough and I hear hate speech directed against Caucasians,
particularly English ones, and Indians every day," Coltart said.

"It only takes a handful of people to become brainwashed for terrible
consequences to result. An English journalist, for example, would be a prime
target. For the ICC not to address these issues is simply a dereliction of
their duty."


World Cup security chief Patrick Ronan admitted that there was "no specific
legal obligation to provide for the safety and security of journalists" but
added that he had "drawn up a list of dos and don'ts for the media that will
be included in their World Cup guide".

Ronan told Reuters that he had personally been assured by Zimbabwe's Police
Commissioner, Augustine Chihuru, that journalists "would be welcome in the
country as long as they stick to reporting on the cricket".

"I got the impression that they would not be pleased at all if journalists
came to the country to report on cricket and then started attacking the
country," Ronan said.

Apart from potential security scares journalists will also be required to
pay US$600 for a permit to enter the country according to recent regulations
introduced by the country's Minister of Information, Jonathan Moyo.

"We asked them to waive the fee for accredited cricket journalists but they
refused to give a blanket waiver," Zimbabwe Cricket Union media officer
Lovemore Banda said on Tuesday.

"A spokesman said that journalists wanting to have the fee waived should
contact the minister to make a personal representation," Banda said.

Meanwhile, a leading Zimbabwe opposition figure, Fidelis Mhashu, has told a
British sports radio station that ordinary people had backed the England
team's call on Monday for their February 13 fixture with Zimbabwe in Harare
to be switched to South Africa.

Their request is to be considered by the England and Wales Cricket Board
this week before any representations to the International Cricket Council
are made.

Mhashu, of the MDC, told London-based talkSport radio: "The people of
Zimbabwe have expressed their pleasure at the England players' decision.

"To play here would legitimise Mugabe's regime and give the impression the
cricketers are not supportive of the plight of the people."

He said the situation prevailing in Harare was of violence and intimidation.
"No sane person would wish to enter such an atmosphere.
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MP urges action to save Zimbabwe people

AN East Lancashire Labour MP has urged the Government to act against Robert
Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe.

Burnley MP Peter Pike asked International Development Secretary Clare Short
what discussions she and fellow Ministers are having with South Africa and
other countries in the region to help free the people of the former Rhodesia
of "the current appalling regime" and the famine it is causing.

Ms Short said she and her colleagues had had many discussions with African
and other world leaders to try and tackle the problem.

But she said: "To date, however, our record is not successful. The situation
is terrible."

Mr Pike said: "If more action is not taken soon the situation in Zimbabwe
will reach a critical point and we do need to take some action to avoid a
major catastrophe."

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ABC News Australia

Zimbabwe captain confident security not an issue

The captain of the Zimbabwean cricket team, Heath Streak, does not believe
player safety will be threatened during the forthcoming World Cup.

The England team has urged the International Cricket Council to move the
matches to South Africa due to security concerns.

The Australian Cricket Board says it has not changed its mind on sending the
Australian team to Zimbabwe.

Heath Streak says player safety has not been compromised during a recent
tour by the South African A side, and security will be greater during the
World Cup.

"I'm not a politician or a political analyst, I just speak from the
cricketing side of things and for us as cricketers it's special to have a
World Cup in Zimbabwe and to be able to host it," he said.

"There's a lot of people looking forward to things going ahead, to be
hosting it is even more special."
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Daily News - Letter

      Streak, ZCU guilty of double standards

      1/28/2003 11:40:04 AM (GMT +2)

      The Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) and our somewhat estranged national
captain (and his father) have stated that politics should be kept out of
sport. They are, of course, entitled to their point of view.

      However, how come then do we have an official ZCU document that
clearly incorporates a quota system (some officials prefer the use of the
word "goals") that is designed (at ZCU's own admission) to select a side
that will reflect a team composition that is more politically correct at the
possible expense of merit selection in many other people's eyes and
specifically designed, timing-wise, for the 2003 World Cup?

      Talk about double standards!

      How foolish do you take the greater majority of Zimbabweans to be on
the issue of the political morality of the Cricket World Cup being held in
Zimbabwe against the backdrop of the "real" political situation in the
      Zimbabwe's national cricket team captain, Heath Streak and the ZCU
should know that the political morality of the situation is indefensible,
especially from a "world stage" sports point of view.

      Your personal and possibly very selfish views and reasons (could they
be solely money-driven?) will be noted by all when Judgment Day arrives!

      A disappointed, but a thankfully still principled cricket fan.

      M Gillingham
      Glen Lorne
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Daily News

      Police clamp down on bakeries

      1/28/2003 11:29:08 AM (GMT +2)

      From Our Correspondent in Mutare

      BAKERIES that continue to sell bread above the government-controlled
price of $60,50 for a standard loaf risk prosecution, police in Mutare have

      Bread, which has been in short supply since the end of last year, is
selling for between $100 and $150 a loaf in Mutare.

      Four leading bakeries in Mutare Mitchells Bakeries, Bakers Inn, Mutare
Bakeries and Manica Bakeries were each slapped with a $250 000 fine in the
past three weeks for trading above the controlled price, the police said.

      Zacharia Mutize, the deputy police spokesperson for Manicaland, said:
"The police price control unit is fining bakeries $250 000 for selling bread
above the controlled price. If bakeries are issued with tickets twice for
overcharging, they will be taken to court if it happens for the third time."

      A manager at Mitchells Bakery in Mutare complained that the government
was controlling the price of the end product but not its inputs.

      Such a scenario was making bakery operations unviable, said the
manager, who declined to be named.

      He said: "Nothing has been controlled for what we use in the baking
process. Only the final loaf is controlled. Such a situation does promote
operational unviability."

      Mitchells, which employs more than 200 people and bakes an average of
10 000 loaves a day, is a leading bread and confectionery supplier in

      Each of the major bread producers in Mutare produces an average of 10
000 loaves a day.
      Queues of desperate customers, many of them tuckshop owners and
general dealers, have become a common site on a daily basis outside Mitchell
's premises in the city centre.

      The queues have been getting longer in recent weeks as other
traditional bread retailers, such as supermarket chains OK and TM, have
reduced output or stopped baking altogether because of either flour
shortages or price controls.

      A supervisor at one supermarket outlet said: "It doesn't make much
business sense to continue baking bread when one is forced to sell it to the
public at below cost."

      In the past week, members of the police price control unit, eagerly
assisted by members of the National Youth Training Service, have stepped up
efforts to monitor bread prices at most outlets in the city.

      In several instances, the so-called "Border Gezi youth graduates" have
forced the temporary closure of bakeries that were found flouting price
control regulations.
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Daily News - Feature

      Memories of 1991-2 drought haunt Umzingwane

      1/28/2003 11:46:12 AM (GMT +2)

      From Oscar Nkala in Bulawayo

      IN villages hidden in the mountainous and sun-scorched valleys of
Umzingwane and Gwanda North, there is a very ticklish tale about a troop of
baboons that drank thothotho, a highly intoxicating illicit home brew,
mistaking it for water.

      The incident is said to have occurred a decade ago, but many people
still recall it vividly because it was most unusual.

      The story is that at the height of the 1991-1992 drought, one of the
numerous troops of baboons that roam the mountain ranges, visited one
village to scrounge for water after spending a number of days checking in
vain from one dam to another.

      The Daily News heard the tale at the Sibomvu growth point in the
Umzingwane district.

      The story, which many have vouched to be true, is that the troop
descended on one homestead, forced open the door to a hut, and poked around
in every container in search of the precious liquid.

      Mbongi Khumalo said: "Convinced there was no water in the hut, the
troop moved to the next hut where they found a 20-litre container full of a
liquid that looked like water.
      "Thirsty as they were, the baboons fought for a chance to take the
first swig. At the end they each managed to drink even though the bootleg
tasted extraordinarily bitter."

      The baboons sauntered out of the deserted village already showing
signs of intoxication. They headed for the Bulawayo-Beitbridge road where
they usually pick up food crumbs thrown out by passing motorists.
      The thothotho brew, Khumalo claims, belonged to an old woman who
operated a backyard brewery.

      Although he does not say where and how the baboons ended, he says the
community tells it as a reminder of the desperation caused by drought, not
only among human communities, but among their primate cousins, and other
species as well.

      Khumalo believes this year's drought will be as catastrophic as in
previous years, especially as searing heat scorches maize plants to tinders.
      In the rivers, the water table has receded in areas where boreholes
are just as scarce. Rigs that still stand have been rendered useless because
of depth limitations.
      Such is the spectre of the drought in Gwanda North and Umzingwane
districts. Scraggy dogs roam the business centre and get into occasional
savage fights for bones that have already been thoroughly gnawed.

      That also demonstrates that the famine ravaging the country has not
spared man and beast alike. "Other types of pets are in the same dilemma.
Who can feed dogs and cats on the little food that comes at such a high
cost?" Khumalo asks.

      Shop shelves at the Sibomvu business centre are as empty as those at
other places The Daily News visited through last weekend.

      Locals are now drawing parallels between the current drought and the
1991-1992 one which, on the basis of villagers' oral records was the

      Tshaka Gumpo had to cut short his siesta to attend to us when we
entered the gates of his serene homestead, a few metres away from the same
business centre.
      "The 1992 drought was the most severe. If the Umzingwane Dam dries up,
all the communities around here know that doom is certain. We are not yet
sure of what may happen this year, but if this season turns out to be as bad
as the current one, we will all be dead by this time next year."

      With a rather wicked chuckle, he adds: "Although nature has special
ways of intervening, it usually comes at the stroke of the catastrophe here.
We do not use water from the dam, but it is a very reliable drought
barometer for us."

      Gumpo, who now leads a solitary life after losing his last two
granddaughters to the glitter of the lights of Habane suburb at Esigodini,
says he has never experienced such "a wicked combination of drought and food
shortage since the 1947 drought".

      The legendary 1947 famine earned the year the nickname umnyaka
wendhlala, (the year of famine), a reference to the combination of
drought-induced famine that heavily decimated both human beings and animals.
      At one rural health centre in Gwanda North, a nurse who declined to be
named, said the starvation unfolding this year would not only worsen the
HIV/Aids pandemic but leave the communities so malnourished they would be
vulnerable to diseases.

      "Health problems associated with malnutrition are already resurfacing
across all age-groups. The famine is already making its mark. Very soon
school children will be collapsing because of hunger. Most of the diseases
we are experiencing now were effectively dealt with under various government
sponsored public health programmes in the late 80s," the nurse says "But the
situation is different now and the government is not helping in any way.
Apart from the usual pain-killers, clinics and rural health service centres
have no medicines for the malnutrition-related diseases which are likely to
increase in both incidence and severity within the next six months."

      Although it is clear that the famine will spark a health crisis of
extraordinary proportions, rural communities say they do not see any
government action on the ground.
      A nurse aide said: "People do not get much in terms of food aid except
on the rare occasions when the World Food Programme (WFP) aligned
non-governmental organisations come to distribute food packs.

      "Even those are not enough to deal with the state of disaster because
of the large size of most families. Such allocations run out within a week,
yet supplies come once per month or two."

      Empty shelves in most rural shops across the province have pushed
multitudes of food seekers into a refugee-type style of living on the
streets of Gwanda, the Matabeleland South provincial capital.

      A walk across the town at night will reveal fires over which frail
women stoop to stir up a light porridge for the babies tightly strapped onto
their backs.

      Others retire early and can be seen huddling together under thin
blankets along the pavements and behind the shop buildings.

      Men, being more innovative, spend half the night moving from one
drinking hole to another to survive until the next day. The main thing that
attracts the multitudes to Gwanda is unsubstantiated rumours that
maize-meal, that most sought-after commodity, is delivered to retailers more
frequently than anywhere else.

      But their presence is a source of irritation to locals, and seems to
be drawing battle lines between the urbanites and the rural folks.

      The urbanites want to see the outsiders herded back to their wards in
the rural areas.

      "These people come here to buy maize-meal, but they forget that we do
not join them when they queue up for free packs from the WFP.

      "The town is now an undeclared refugee camp where anyone can make a
fire and start cooking, even in public places. Others have turned the
pavements into sleeping bays," said Nick Maphosa, a Gwanda town resident.
      Whatever feelings the townsfolk may have towards their rural kith and
kin, the reality is that shops in the rural areas are empty and the
maize-meal shortage has become desperate.

      As Tsoarello Nkwate, a resettled farmer of Jannie Ranch put it: "Leli
ilizwe kaligcini ntandane (this country does not look after orphans)."

      But some still think this year's famine is somehow special.

      "What makes this year's famine different is that it is the product of
a combination of a natural process and reckless human error. If the
government had embarked on a proper land reform exercise that allowed the
commercial agricultural sector to remain functional in the past two years,
we would be talking of marginal cases of starvation," says Petros Mukwena, a
Gwanda politician and critic of the Zanu PF government.

      "The mismanagement of the economy has seen goods disappearing from
shop shelves and resurfacing in the black market. Because of their poor
financial status, the rural folk simply do not look for goods there."
      He criticised the government for declaring a State of emergency and
then retreating into inactivity while the masses starve.

      Mukwena said: "There is no activity on the ground to show that the
government is responding to the humanitarian crisis. The very fact that
Joseph Made, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement,
chose to ignore warnings of food shortages as early as 2000, shows how
disastrous Zanu PF policies can be.

      "Even the government's naked-lie attempt to blame this food crisis on
drought alone shows how good they are at misleading the people and covering
up their own inadequacies. Skewed and self-serving Zanu PF policies are
responsible for the suffering of the people."
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